‘Suicide Squad’ Star Jared Leto Studied ‘Horrendous Crimes’ And Met With Killers To Play The Joker

Jared Leto went to some extreme lengths for his upcoming portrayal of The Joker. In preparing for the iconic role in Suicide Squad, Leto admitted that he studied “horrendous crimes” and actually interviewed real-life killers. Not only did this allow Leto an opportunity to get into the head of a psychopath, but it also enabled him to approach the part in a new way.

When speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the Suicide Squad star explained how violence plays a critical role in The Joker’s actions. This fact inspired Leto to uncover secrets about people who commit violent crimes by interviewing them himself.

“To the Joker, violence is a symphony,” he stated in the interview. “I did meet with people that were experts, doctors, psychiatrists that dealt with psychopaths and people who had committed horrendous crimes, and then I spent some time with those people themselves, people who have been institutionalized for great periods of time.”

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At the same time, Leto also shared how The Joker went from an imaginary person to something real while he studied for the part. In fully adapting to The Joker’s personality, Leto was able to do things that he would normally never dream of doing.

“He became a real person,” Leto shared. “I don’t know if person is the right word. I think the Joker lives in between reality and another plane. Kind of a shaman in a way. It’s a very intoxicating role to take on. You have permission to break rules and to challenge yourself and anyone around you in a really unique way.”

According to NME, Leto sent a lot of strange gifts to his Suicide Squad co-stars while production was underway. This included a pig head, sex toys, rats, and even condoms. Of course, there was reason behind the odd offerings. For Leto, they were a way to establish a mood for his character and define his relationship with everyone else.

“I think in the beginning it was important to set up and define our relationship, so to speak,” he explained. “There were a lot of things. It was fun. You’ve got to remember doing these things isn’t just about the result, it’s the process… Those actions and those gestures—the Joker loves a grand gesture. Those were really important. And they were fun. The Joker is someone who doesn’t take things too seriously.”

Aside from establishing his character, Leto’s disturbing gifts were an important part of the process for the actor. According to Collider, Leto is a method actor and rarely went out of character during production. Fortunately for fans, this also means that Leto’s performance is likely going to be something brand new, which is impressive given The Joker’s many iterations over the years.

The late Heath Ledger won an Oscar for his portrayal of The Joker in "The Dark Knight." [Image via Warner Bros.]

When explaining about how his character contrasts to previous ones, Leto revealed that he forged a new path from the very start. Not only did this allow him more freedom, but it also helped him to distinguish himself from other renditions, including Heath Ledger’s.

“We knew we had to strike new ground. There had been such great work that we knew we had to go in a different direction,” he stated. “So you had a kind of direction from the very beginning, knowing that you can’t go that way, so you have to head this way. That was really helpful. But the Joker is fantastic because there are no rules. The Joker operates from instinct.”

In addition to Leto, Suicide Squad stars Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Cara Delevingne, Ben Affleck, Jai Courtney, Viola Davis, and Joel Kinnaman.

Suicide Squad is set to premiere August 5 in theaters everywhere.

[Image via Warner Bros.]